University of North Alabama head coach Chris Willis has announced that Coach Cordell Upshaw has joined the University of North Alabama football coaching staff.
Cordell, son of Cordell Sr. and Alice Guess, is a 2003 graduate of Leesville High School.
Coach Upshaw will work with the UNA defensive line, the position he previously coached at Southern Arkansas University.
The UNA Lions, located in Florence, is preparing for the school's first season of Division 1 Championship Subdivision Football.
Cordell remembers, "I grew up with a really good group of friends, especially my team mates. We had 22 guys in our senior class who had played together since 7th grade.
“Guys like Jeremy Burkes who also went to Southern Arkansas with me, Keith Zinger who signed with LSU, Tommy Edwards, Michael Toney, Derek Williams, Gilbert Franca, and Chris Nash just to name a few. These guys and many more helped create many great memories while at LHS, and are still good friends to this day!"
Growing up he was highly involved in sports. In fact football wasn't his favorite sport.
He actually attempted to quit football with the thought of focusing more on basketball. Thankfully his mother said, "I'm not having that, I'm not raising a quitter".
If it were not for her making that decision for me to continue playing football, I would not have traveled the path that has led me to my career today. "I am extremely thankful to her for that!"
He went on to be a three-year letterman linebacker for the Wampus Cats.
His senior year he was an All-State and All-District selection, as well as the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year for West Central Louisiana.
After graduating Cordell continued his education at South Arkansas University in Magnolia on a football scholarship.
Cordell remembers, "South Arkansas was one of the last schools to contact me. I had the opportunity of talking with a couple of schools throughout the recruiting process about the possibility of walking on. In the end Southern Arkansas offered to help pay for my schooling, while giving me a feeling of comfort that reminded me a lot of Leesville."
During his collegiate playing days, Cordell was a four-year letterman for the Muleriders and was a defensive standout as a starter at the linebacker and defensive end positions.
After graduating with a B.S. in Human Performance, he began his college-coaching career as a Graduate Assistant at his Alma Mater, while earning his Masters Degree in Kinesiology.
Cordell was fortunate to have several mentors growing up. "Losing my dad at an early age, there were men I looked up to for guidance, including both of my grandfathers, Lawrence Williams and Van Upshaw.
Coach Robbie Causey (current Leesville high head football coach), who to this day is still is a huge mentor to me. Coach Causey was my defensive coordinator all four of my high school years. He was able to get me to believe and accomplish things I never imagined I could do. And now being in the coaching profession, he is someone I lean on a lot for so much guidance on how to continue to progress in this profession. Leesville High is very lucky to have such a great coach like him, and I am very grateful for the relationship I have with Coach Causey!"
What Coach Upshaw enjoys most coaching at the college level is the opportunity to work with a young age group.
He originally got into the college profession because of his love for the game, but it didn't take him long to realize his purpose as a coach was to lead, guide, and help mold young minds.
This ultimately helped him discover that his profession is so much bigger than a game.
This commitment led to success on the field.
As defensive coach four years for the SAU Muleriders, the team won 26 games. His defensive line averaged 15 sacks and 43 tackles for loss in those four years. His unit accomplished 21 sacks during in the 2017 season.
Upshaw helped develop a defensive front that was among the best in the nation in stopping the run as they allowed just 91.4 yards per game, which was tops in the Great American Conference and the sixth-best mark in all of Division II.
Cordell looks forward to the opportunity UNA has given him to coach in a Division 1 University.
Best wishes and continued success Cordell!